A debut novel follows two Baltimore forensic nurse examiners who search for evidence in cases of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Trauma nurse Addie Donovan’s long hours evidently become too much for her fiance, who suddenly breaks off their engagement. She packs her things and moves in with her friend Rachel Tristin, a nurse and death investigator. Though she’s upset, Addie uses the opportunity to pursue her dream of becoming a forensic nurse examiner. It’s a demanding job that requires, for instance, a rigorous examination of a gay man whom two attackers brutally assaulted and sexually tortured. But Addie has a passion for helping people, and Rachel, seemingly inspired by her friend, becomes an FNE as well (“She wanted to help living victims of horrific crimes get through the worst day of their life”). Both women find time for potential romance with men they’ve met in the course of their work. Addie frequently confers with ruggedly handsome Detective Frank Knight on cases, and Rachel is immediately smitten with firefighter David, though he doesn’t call her after their first date. Meanwhile, there’s a possibility that a serial rapist is stalking and attacking women in Baltimore, ultimately resulting in one of the two friends being in peril. Keating and Shoenfeld’s novel often feels like a series of short stories. Chapters, for example, typically focus on a stand-alone subplot: Addie happens upon an icy-road accident involving a bus of handicapped children, and Rachel works her first case as an FNE. While the serial rapist story arc mostly sits on the back burner, the various subplots skillfully showcase two empathetic, professional women. Their thorough examinations entail gentle but direct questions as the nurses explain to the victims every aspect of the exam (for example, what they’re photographing and why). The authors’ extensive medical backgrounds produce meticulous descriptions and an unflinching but enlightening look at what constitutes sexual assault forensic exams. While Addie and Rachel have personal lives (primarily dating), time spent between the two friends is unfortunately negligible. But readers will likely hope for a sequel with the two laudable characters.
An engrossing and educational look at forensic nurse examiners.